Atule, The Beautiful Girl speaks of beauty, peer influence, and culture.
Atule, The Beautiful Girl
Atule grew up in the village of Ukpoke with her mother. At the age of six, she lost her father, so she stayed with only her mother.
Atule was a very beautiful girl, and she was very respectful. Her mother was a peasant farmer who used her produce from the farm to take care of her only child.
Everybody in the community and even those from faraway places appreciated Atule’s beauty. Atule’s beauty was even more evident in the sun when the golden beams of the late evening sun shone on her dark skin on her way from the river.
Atule grew up to be very respectful and obedient and she was loved by all.
All was well and fine till Atule met some friends that started influencing her negatively. She allowed her beauty to get to her head; she suddenly became rude and pompous. By this time, Atule had reached the age where she was supposed to be helping her mother with the household chores, she didn’t care one bit about kitchen work, all because of her friends and their influence.
“Atule, you need to come and help me with the kitchen work,” her mother would always say, but Atule paid no attention to her.
“Mama, I am a grown woman who doesn’t need all these to survive. And besides, I have more important things to do with my life. So no, I won’t help you in the kitchen.” Atule would always say and then walk away.
Atule started dressing indecently to further enhance her beauty. She would wear clothes that show too much skin, and then she would go out with her friends. Her mother started getting worried because she was rude, hostile, and disobedient. Atule’s mother then went to her family, friends, and neighbours to beg them to talk to Atule. Everyone tried everything possible to talk sense into Atule’s head, but she paid no attention to them. Instead, she continued on the wrong track.
Atule would leave very early in the morning and return late at night just to eat and sleep. The next morning, she would wake up very late, take her bath and prepare herself for another unrewarding day.
It got so bad that her mother could no longer bear it. She decided to punish her. Atule’s mother noticed that Atule was always coming back when the food was on the fire. So she decided to trick her. One day Atule came back at the same time and noticed that the soup was still on the fire. So she sat far away and waited for her mother to cook while she watched. Atule’s mother didn’t say anything. She just smiled to herself. Even though Atule’s mother had already added all the ingredients to the pot of soup, she dusted her palm into the soup and seemingly invited all the ingredients into the pot of soup. Atule, who sat afar off did not know what her mother was doing.
Atule thought she had mastered how to cook and so didn’t bother to ask her mother how to do it. Every day, she would sit far away from the cooking pot of soup, and her mother would do the same thing.
One faithful day, Atule’s mother died. After crying her eyes out for the attention of the villagers, Atule went to stay with her mother’s relatives. When Atule got there, she continued with her nasty behaviours, but just as her mother couldn’t keep up with it, her relatives couldn’t keep up with it either. So soon, they kicked Atule out of the house. Luckily, Atule had found a suitor before they did this.
Atule then went with her suitor to his village so that they could begin the wedding rites. One of the rites, however, was for Atule to prepare a dish.
“Atule, welcome to our village. We are a peaceful people, as you can see,” Atule’s mother-in-law told her with a smile.
“Thank you for welcoming me to your home, mama,” Atule equally responded with a smile.
“Okay, well. We need you to fulfill some wedding rites before my son can finally marry you.” The woman was so taken away by the beauty of Atule that she didn’t even bother to play the jealous mother-in-law card.
“Okay, what wedding rite would that be?” Atule asked with worry.
“Oh, it’s nothing a beautiful girl like you can’t take care of. All we need you to do is prepare a delicious vegetable meal for us. It’s a tradition in our village that every girl that wants to marry should, first of all, cook for her suitor and his family. It will help us test her cooking and home skills,” Atule’s mother-in-law added.
“Okay, but why vegetable soup?” Atule asked in distress.
“Oh, that’s because vegetable soup is the cheapest and the simplest food to make,” Atule’s mother-in-law responded and left. Atule paced up and down. She could not cook, and she knew it.
A few minutes later, they arrived with the ingredients for the meal.
“Good luck,” the woman said to her and then left. Atule did not know what to do. She even ate the smoked fish that was meant to be in the soup. Then she placed the pot on the fire and repeated the same action she saw her mother doing. She dusted her palm into the pot and invited all the ingredients to come into it.
Atule did this three times till she realized that it wasn’t working. Nevertheless, Atule continued doing it.
“Why is this thing not working?” Atule spoke to herself. “But this is how Mama used to do it.” It was then that Atule understood that her mother only deceived her.
Soon, her husband’s family, who arrived for the new wife’s meal started murmuring because there was nothing to eat. Her sister-in-law decided to go to the kitchen and find out what the problem was. When she got there, she saw it was only water that was boiling. She immediately rushed back to her brother and told him everything she saw.
Atule’s husband’s people were so angry that they threw her out and told her that if she didn’t learn how to cook, she should never come back to them.
Atule cried bitterly because she had no one to go to and learn how to cook. And when her mother was alive, she didn’t bother to learn from her.
Do not be obedient, selfish, and rude, especially to the finger that fed you.
Do you know anyone one that acts like Atule, The Beautiful Girl?
What would you say to your friends if they try to mislead you like the friends of Atule, The Beautiful Girl did?